Real-Time Flood Monitoring During Monsoons for Mumbai Citizens with IIT-B’s ‘Urban Flood Risk Map’ Pilot Project
Mumbai, the city of dreams, is no stranger to heavy monsoons and its effects. The city has faced devastating floods twice in the past, and waterlogging and flooding have continued to be recurring issues. However, citizens now have reason to be hopeful as the Interdisciplinary Programme in Climate Studies (IDPCS) at IIT-Bombay is launching a pilot project titled ‘Urban Flood Risk Map: Monitoring and Modelling.’
The project aims to create a real-time flood monitoring and forecasting system that will provide citizens with a detailed, neighbourhood-specific image of waterlogging, much like checking the air quality index (AQI). This initiative will empower citizens with crucial and actionable information to make important decisions during heavy rainfall situations.
Reflection-based flood sensors will be set up at key locations such as Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and Hiranandani Complex in Powai to gather data on waterlogging in the city. The success of the project’s first year will determine the expansion of the sensor network, potentially spreading to dozens more in Mumbai. Citizens will also be encouraged to contribute anecdotal information via social media using #MUMBAIFLOODDATA along with geo-tagged images.
Subimal Ghosh, the institute chair professor at the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT-B, and convener of IDPCS, highlighted the gap in reliable information during heavy rainfall situations. The goal is to generate more reliable, real-time data on a dedicated web-portal to empower citizens. To achieve this, the team will utilise macro-level rainfall warnings issued by India Meteorological Department (IMD) for Mumbai, and using AI and machine learning models, these warnings will be transformed into specific alerts for each area to inform people about which regions to avoid during heavy rainfall.
The project also aims to enhance the forecasting accuracy by using data on drainage and hydrological models. Using numerical values to describe the level of potential risk, and with the aid of rainfall information and a digital elevation map of the city, people can be informed with reasonable certainty of the risk levels in specific areas. The team is exploring various possibilities to help citizens make informed decisions during heavy rainfall situations.
Raghu Murtugudde, a visiting professor at IIT-B and a professor of Earth System Science at the University of Maryland, stressed the need for preparedness and the importance of providing detailed and timely warnings to vulnerable communities. He added that floods can happen even during a dry monsoon season due to isolated extreme weather events that are becoming more common.
In conclusion, the ‘Urban Flood Risk Map: Monitoring and Modelling’ project is a crucial step towards empowering citizens during heavy rainfall situations in Mumbai. With real-time flood monitoring and forecasting systems, citizens will have access to detailed, neighbourhood-specific information on waterlogging, enabling them to make informed decisions and stay safe during heavy rainfall.